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Rankin family wins big at NHL game in Winnipeg

The Kabluitok family didn't know Lady Luck had paid them a big visit when they left the NHL game pitting the Montreal Canadiens against the Winnipeg Jets 10-minutes early on Dec. 23.

Back at their hotel Panikuluk (Kayylynn), who purchased the ticket shortly after they arrived at the MTS Centre, mentioned to her husband that he should log onto the Internet and check the winning numbers picked at the game.

The Kabluitok family, from left, Eugene carrying Malaija, 2, Hudson 7, and Odile, 4, holding Mom's, Panikuluk (Kusugak), hand received an early Christmas gift when they won the 50-50 draw at the Montreal vs. Winnipeg NHL game in Winnipeg on Dec. 23. Their son, Payton, 12, is absent from photo. Photo courtesy of Noel Kaludjak

Eugene said he got super excited as he read the numbers on the screen.

He said he called his wife to take another look just in case he might be dreaming.

“I was in either shock or disbelief staring at that number looking back at me,” said Eugene.

“There was our ticket number listed next to the top prize of $90, 635 or something like that.

“Our kids had no idea what was going on as I was yelling and my wife was in like absolute shock.

“It was all so crazy and we didn't actually claim the prize until Dec. 27 when my wife went to claim it while I watched my son play in his peewee tournament.”

Eugene said the game was totally sold out and there were Montreal fans wearing red everywhere he looked in the arena.

He said the pot was also a little bigger because the organizers put an extra $20,000 in as a Christmas gesture to the fans.

“I was awhile believing we had actually won it, but it sure was an exciting feeling when the ticket was confirmed and we knew for sure we were getting the money.

“And I'm not even a fan of either team. I'm a New Jersey fan but we like to go down to Winnipeg every once in a while to see an NHL game.”

Panikuluk was even longer to believe she had won the draw than Eugene because she thought her husband was playing a joke on her and putting her on.

Panikuluk said she even thought that number was from a previous draw because she doesn't usually have luck anywhere near that level.

She said it took a long time and a number of calls before she finally accepted the fact her husband wasn't deep into some kind of prank on her and they had actually won.

“At first I was really in shock and couldn't believe it to the point where I was thinking the numbers could somehow change,” Panikuluk said with a laugh.

“That night Eugene couldn't sleep because he was so excited, but I slept like a baby because, I guess, I still didn't believe it was real, so I wasn't giving much thought to it.

“The next morning, I made more calls to check the number and, when I finally accepted that this was real, I just started crying because I was so overwhelmed by it all.

“I must have checked that number a million times before I finally believed we won.”

Panikuluk said the family has to wait a little bit to receive the money.

She said there's only a couple of things for sure she'd like to spend some of it on.

“So far, we've only decided that we're definitely going to buy a new snowmobile.

“I would love to take my kids on a vacation to somewhere we would never of had the opportunity to visit if it wasn't for this.

“My youngest one has a number of different health matters that make travelling difficult for her, so we're going to have to wait until her health is good enough for us all to go.

“But that's something I'd really, really like to do with some of the money from this.”